VIDEO: Homeless family numbers soars 76% in 2015

Homelessness charities war the crisis “is only getting worse” as figures reveal a 76% spike in the number of homeless families since the start of the year.

Figures released by the Department of the Environment show there are currently 3,372 adults and 707 families stuck in emergency accommodation — a 76% increase since January.

The number of children living in emergency accommodation stands at just under 1,500 — up 72% since the start of the year. A total of 2,413 single people are homeless.

National spokesperson for the Simon Communities Niamh Randall said someone in Government needs “to call a halt” to the crisis levels of homelessness immediately.

“There simply must be an increase in rent supplement,” said Ms Randall. “The current limits are pushing people into homelessness. This needs to happen alongside rent certainty measures, which were promised in February of this year but as yet have failed to materialise.

“Someone needs to call a halt to this right now. We are urging the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to demonstrate the leadership required at this meeting on Monday to show us that this Government can and will match rhetoric with the action needed to address this devastating crisis.”

Mr Kenny will chair the first meeting of the sub-cabinet Committee on Social Policy since the summer recess today. Homelessness is expected to be a key item on the agenda.

Last week, four Dublin local authorities put prefabricated or modular homes on display, stating that they may be an option to ease the homelessness crisis in the capital.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly has expressed support for the move and said a Dublin City Council analysis of the plan would be ready this week.

However, the Simon Communities have stated that plans to tackle the crisis are not being rolled out quickly enough.

“There simply must be an increase in rent supplement,” said Ms Randall. “The current limits are pushing people into homelessness. This needs to happen alongside rent certainty measures, which were promised in February of this year but as yet have failed to materialise.

“We cautiously welcomed the modular demonstration project unveiled last week but there remains much detail to be worked out.

“This is all just taking too long, and yet month after month more men, women and children are trapped in emergency accommodation, are at risk of homelessness and are experiencing the stress and trauma of homelessness and housing instability.”

Ms Randall said it was clear from the figures that the crisis was “worsening every single day” and called on the Government to make better use of existing empty State properties and local authority homes.

“There is a solution to this crisis and it is access to affordable, permanent housing with support,” she said. “We know this approach works and we know that it can transform the lives of people who are living in hostels, hotels and B&Bs; trying to get their children to school, trying to get homework done and meals cooked all in one small room.”

Figures released under Freedom of Information recently show 130,000 households on local authority housing waiting lists, some 40,000 more than officially acknowledged by Government.

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